Solar PV can power African homes for $56 per year

Solar PV can power African homes for $56 per year

Falling solar costs in Africa can drive solar boom on the continent as prices fall to $1.30 per watt for large-scale PV, and $1.90 per watt for mini-grids, finds new IRENA report.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has today published a report outlining how tumbling solar costs are making PV one of the cheapest means for powering many parts of Africa.

The report, titled Solar PV in Africa: Costs and Markets, finds that solar home systems now meet the annual electricity needs for off-grid households in Africa for just $56 per year – which is already below the cost of traditional off-grid power sources such as diesel and kerosene, and prices are continuing to fall.

At large scale, solar PV in Africa can be generated at a cost of $1.30 per watt because installation costs are lower than elsewhere in the world. IRENA calculates that the average global installed cost of large-scale PV is $1.80 per watt.

Since 2012, the cost of solar PV in Africa has fallen by 61%, and IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin believes that a similar cost reduction curve can be achieved over the next decade.

“These cost reductions, coupled with vast solar potential on the continent, present a huge opportunity for Africa,” said Amin. “Both grid-connected and off-grid solar PV mow offer a cost-competitive means to rising energy needs, and bring electricity to the 600 million Africans who currently lack access.”

irena_africas-total-cumulative-installed-capacity-of-solar-pv-2000-2015_2016The global solar boom has left only light fingerprints on Africa so far. The continent added 800 MW of new PV capacity in 2014 – which double cumulative capacity – and 750 MW last year, but in comparison with other regions uptake has been slow. Grid-connected PV, particularly in sub-Saharan countries, is still something of a rarity, but most nations have in place policies and regulations to expedite the adoption of solar.

Off-grid solar applications, in the form of solar home kits and mini-grids, have thus far been the most accessible, affordable and scalable route to adoption. IRENA calculates that standalone solar PV mini-grids have installed costs as low as $1.90 per watt for systems larger than 200 kW, and as costs continue to come down – driven by greater investment in off-grid programs and the global fall in module and component costs – Africa could be a 70 GW market by 2030.

“Africa’s solar potential is enormous, with solar irradiation levels up to 117% higher than in Germany – the country with the highest installed solar power capacity,” said Amin. “It has never been more possible, and less expensive, for Africa to realize this potential.”

Source: Re-new Economy

Date: October 2016

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